What a travesty the play at tackle was for the Raiders last season. It was pretty expected, really, considering they began the season with rookie Kolton Miller at left tackle and career left tackle Donald Penn suddenly switching sides coming off an injury. Then after he suffered another injury, it was rookie third round pick Brandon Parker thrust into service at right tackle. The result was Derek Carr getting sacked 51 times.
Can the Raiders afford to just hope the two rookies can bulk up and show improvement in their second seasons in the league? That seems unwise. Should they look to add a veteran to the mix to compete, or preferably hold down the job until either or both of them are ready to step in — and especially if they aren’t — these are the guys who would bring the most to the table.
Ja’Wuan James, Dolphins
This former first round pick was the high graded free agent starting tackle in the market according to Pro Football Focus. At 6-6, 312 pounds, he also fits right into Tom Cable’s ideal for a tackle’s physique. James has been the Dolphins’ starting right tackle since day one and for the past five seasons. Though he did miss 17 games in his career, twice missing the second half of the season in 2015 and 2017. He is good for giving up about five sacks over a full season, which he’s played three times in his career.
Daryl Williams, Panthers
The 6-6, 330-pounder started every game at right tackle in the 2017, missing just one snap all season. In that time, he gave up just three sacks on the season. Then tragedy struck. In last year’s training camp, he suffered a serious knee injury, dislocating his knee cap and tearing his MCL. Initially he opted not to have surgery, but then aggravated the injury in the team’s season opener. After that, he had the surgery and was placed on injured reserve. He was a top ten tackle in 2017 according to Pro Football Focus, so providing he can return fully from his injury -- and there’s no reason he can’t – the 26-year-old would be a tremendous get in free agency.
Donovan Smith, Buccaneers
The former 2nd round pick has started every single game of his career, never missing a game. He’s given up just 15.5 sacks in four NFL seasons, is considered a very good run blocker and is coming off a season with a career-low 6 penalties. And yet most Buccaneers fans seem to be ready to let him walk. Someone could get quite a find if they do that.
Ereck Flowers, Jaguars
The former 1st round pick was waived by the Giants midseason after having given up 17.0 sacks in his first three seasons. With a rather hefty contract for a flame out, no one was jumping at the chance to claim him off waivers so once he cleared waivers, the Miami native signed on with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The 6-6, 334-pounder was the Giants’ pick at 9th overall in the 2015 draft to be their long term answer at left tackle. It didn’t work out that way, but perhaps a move to right tackle would help revive his career? Mike Mayock had him ranked as his second best tackle in that draft, so he may be in favor of giving Flowers that chance.